NOTE: BagNewsNotes is now located at Please update your bookmarks.

You will be automatically redirected in a few seconds...

« Bill Clinton: Sleeping Giant | Main | Last Line Of Defense »

Sep 27, 2006

'06 Race In Single Digits


I came down too hard on Bill Clinton yesterday.

His public thrashing of FOX and Chris Wallace on Sunday has proven quite effective.  And I'm not say that because of the invigoration of the netroots.  It's because of how the blow to an already off-balance White House is playing out in the (visual) words and pictures.

In the past, the high command would probably have paid short shrift.  Clinton made such a forceful, clear, unequivocal and resonant point about how now-suspect Bush, Cheney and Rice ignored bin Ladin, however, it couldn't go unchallenged.

Because Clinton was emphatic about the warnings of Richard Clarke (and, by implication, Condi's brush off of a reputable adviser), Rice had no choice but to respond immediately.  Using the (Fox/Murdoch sister outlet) New York Post as her venue, however, was unusually cheap.  Situating herself in Clinton's back yard, putting on a red suit, trying her uneven best to look authoritative, and attempting to employ tabloid hysteria to match Clinton's true outrage came off, by contrast, as typically phony Administration sentiment.  (In the picture with the article, notice how Condi isn't even making eye contact with the camera.) 

(Paper tigers, that's what/who Clinton revealed.  Paper tigers.)

But the more significant place to study the reaction, of course, was with Bush.

When Dems get worked up, one thing Rove likes to do is draw attention to the tone.  Generally, he can dilute the content (and impact) by beguiling the press with the affect.  The Administration doesn't just highlight behavior, however.  They try to fashion a neurolinguistic tool -- in other words, a piece of visual language or "meme" -- to simultaneously showcase, highlight and denigrate their target. 


In this instance, the word-picture Rove picked out for Bush was "finger pointing."  (That part was a no-brainer.  As the GWOT's most popular form of body language and the unavoidable visual element I isolated in my post yesterday, the gesture made the "play of the day" as soon as Clinton rose up and started pecking on Wallace's own note pad.)

However, let's look at how -- during Bush's press conference with Hamid Karzai -- BushCo tried to subliminally peck at us.  (I include Bush's entire response to Clinton not just because it's ridiculous, but because of the way he directly contradicts himself over whether he'll comment or not.  ...You'll see, in a second, how BushCo makes the same contradiction visually.)  (Bold type mine, of course.) 

Q : Thank you, Mr. President.  Former President Clinton says that your administration had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after he left office. Is that factually accurate, and how do you respond to his charges?

PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, look, Caren, I've watched all this finger-pointing and naming of names, and all that stuff. Our objective is to secure the country. And we've had investigations, we had the 9/11 Commission, we had the look back this, we've had the look back that. The American people need to know that we spend all our time doing everything that we can to protect them. So I'm not going to comment on other comments.

But I will comment on this -- that we're on the offense against an enemy that wants to do us harm.

... And then, almost immediately following, we get this:

So I'm going to continue to work to protect this country. And we'll let history judge -- all the different
finger-pointing and all that business. I don't have enough time to finger-point. I've got to stay -- I've got to do my job, which comes home every day in the Oval Office, and that is to protect the American people from further attack.

Good enough.  The White House is listing these days, Clinton scores a direct hit and Rove does his best to take the edge off.  The message?  Clinton is a hot head while Bush keeps his cool (and stays the course, etc.).  But, with Rove, there's always more to it.   


Rove, in fact, has been working this hot/cool thing for months now.  This is not something arbitrary Karl just pulled out of his behind yesterday.  Among other things, "Cool Bush" has been a marketing cornerstone of the Rove/Administration Iran strategy.

Just one recent example -- which the press also lapped up -- is that NYT cover I featured the other day juxtaposing Bush and Ahmadinejad at the U.N.  You notice how Bush has his hands flat on that lectern?  Well, Rove knows that the (finger-pointing) first term Commander-in-Chief (or "Hot Bush") is not only associated with the Iraq failure, but is what led to the disaster.  So Rove -- and the Administration, in it's current, long-running diplomacy show -- is trying to tone Bush down as much as possible.

But then, these guys are cave men after all.  And, when the bottom starts to fall out, even the most fraudulent of men start to revert to form.  Clinton not only exposed the Administration, but he did so by appropriating Bush's primary reflex (besides charm), which is: the use of force. 

So let's think about the image above (hypocritically featured on yesterday's White House photo gallery) in consideration of how screwed up these guys have become.  These jokers couldn't use too forceful an image, because their man is cool now.  But they couldn't use a passive image, because they are under attack.  So, they jam home the point that they're not going to point by featuring this image linked to the transcript of the press conference with their meme in it !?!

Game (nearly) over.

(image 1: Paul Morse/White House. September 26, 2006.  East Room.  image 2: Fox News Sunday via thinkprogress.  September 24, 2006.  image 3 & 4: Richard Perry/The New York Times.  New York.  September 19, 2006.


Bag, in the top picture, Bush isn't keeping his hands down and still; he's holding his notes in place.

Sorry, this is VERY off-topic for today: but it's important.

Check out the left side of this web page (before they take it down).
See what Newsweek's covers are in the rest of the word compared to here in the states.
(You couldn't ask for a more perfect distillation of how our main-stream media makes us dumberer...)

Okay, now we return to our regular Bagnewsnotes broadcast! :-)

Bushco is definitely shooting themselves in the foot (excuse the pun) in this exchange. Clinton's emphatic "finger-pointing" has given him the moral high ground. Clinton's finger-pointing speaks for the American public, the Administration knows it and they're running scared. Now they have to pretend to seem cool, calm and collected ("manly") in comparison to the overly-emotional (and "feminized") Democrats. But this is a situation that calls for strong feelings and it puts them out of tune with the mood of the country. Keep it up, Democrats! As for Condi, red suit or no, she has zero credibility--even with the most gullible right-wing tabloid readers.

well, this morning, just now on npr-adios, it's all about body language...

Hmm, there are memes, and there are memes.

Chris Wallace ambushed Clinton. He flew his planes into Clinton's buildings, but did you spot that Chris Wallace inadvertantly called him President Clinton when under Clinton's return fire? Or did it seem so natural that you didn't notice it either? That's because we were all enjoying being reminded what a real US President should sound like. :::[Clinton shows how real Presidents handle ambush] How refreshing, especially after a long 5 years when it has been needed most.

Mrs. Rice's statement about the activities during the 8 months before 9/11 says: We developed the Predator-drone ..... Well, if that is it, what illustrates sharply the activities of Bushco, I would say: ridiculous! It sounds, as if you develop a new gun to kill the victims of a disease...
It fits perfectly into her other statement: "She insisted U.S. forces must finish the job in Iraq and the wider Middle East to wipe out the "root cause" of violent extremism - not just the terror thugs who carry out the attacks." As if ever the Military was able to "wipe out" the root cause of unrest or "terrorism". I remember a thing called Vietnam.

This is one of BAG's best posts ever. This seems to prove the efficacy of the whole idea of analyzing photos and 'body language.'

...I'd need to do some research but did Clinton wear a little US-Flag lapel pin EVERYwhere ALL the time?

My irrational Bush-Hatred-Syndrome really gets set off by that thing.

Sorry BAG and all you regulars here, but I'm having a lot of trouble relating to yesterday's and today's posts. The fact that George Bush is the worst president in US history doesn't change the fact that Bill Clinton is a scumbag himself. The major criticism of the Bush administration here at BAGNews, I believe, is its horrendous foreign policy, particularly concerning Iraq. I should hope it's possible to criticize the Bush Administration without praising Bill C., whose secretary of state, remember, thought the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under Clinton Admin. watch was "worth it". (Worth what?) Clinton may have better form, but certainly deserves anything but praise.

All of this is practically simultaneous with Bill's most recent defense of Bush. And no, I don't think it is respectable or intellectually honest to refrain from criticizing one's successor if they're doing a shitty job.

All that said, regarding catching Rove I must say the BAG has once again done a superb job.

When is this "Show" going to be over? When is our President his administration, our Senators and Congress people going to quit putting on this subliminal show for us and start actually doing something of substance. Something that means something, something that gets something done, something that actually changes something for the better. When are they going to get on the ball and start to actually fix the things that have gone wrong instead of depending on only shaping public opinion through visual displays and word manipulation?

from a poster" Sorry, this is VERY off-topic for today: but it's important.

Check out the left side of this web page (before they take it down).
See what Newsweek's covers are in the rest of the word compared to here in the states.
(You couldn't ask for a more perfect distillation of how our main-stream media makes us dumberer...)

Okay, now we return to our regular Bagnewsnotes broadcast! :-)

Posted by: D | Sep 27, 2006 at 06:01 AM "

I went to the NEWSWEEK site and checked out the covers. All the overseas covers have an Afghan man with a rocket launcher on the cover, except for the U.S. cover which has some family photos or something like that on the cover. Thanks for pointing that out D but don't you know that the reason is we can't have cover photos of Afghan men with rocket launchers and headlines of how we are losing ground in Afghanistan on our national magazines during an election cycle?

On that off topic: I wouldn't worry too much about Newsweek. I recall Newsweek International's cover story for 10 September 2001 directly questioning whether George W. Bush should be removed from office. Funny how they forgot to follow up on that one. And I don't mean like how Bill C. felt when he said in the FOX interview that Karl Rove has always "amused" him.

Today's NY Post headline: "It's War: Hillary Fires 9/11 Shot at Condi." In true tabloid tradition, they should have said:


"Rice: Why should you believe Bill Clinton about anything after he lied to you about your marriage?

"H. Clinton: Well, at least when I called the President my husband, he was!"

Excellent tie-up by TheBag. The references I've heard to Rice's 'speech' always managed to mention that it was to a group of NYPost employees. As if that demoted the importance of her words, which, of course, it does. Preaching to the choir and all that. I've had limited time to read the netroots responses, but I did notice that Newt claims that Clinton's Faux-bashing was premeditated and clever. Ahem.......was Newt prompted by Rove? His response comes late after observing that Rice, et al., weren't all that effective.

[I know this is a terrible thing to say, but every time I see a picture of Rice, I can't help thinking of the old Stan Freberg puppet, Mouth-full-o-teeth Keith, the lion.]

I wonder if drawing attention to tone is backfiring this time.......Rove's focusing on finger-pointing. Maybe there are a lot more people this time around thinking....yeah, it's time someone pointed the finger. Of course, the wingnut radio lushes will repeat the meme ad nauseam, so long-term effect is still open to question.

TheBag has previously questioned theRove's continuing effectiveness. Perhaps one mistake the left has made is participating (unwillingly?) in the iconographic build-up of his political genius. Perhaps his 'genius' is no more than average political cunning of any college graduate with an IQ of over 120. What sets him apart is that he has no conscience and will ruthlessly do whatever it takes to get his guys elected. The bodies littering the field in his wake are of no consequence to him.

As for the top photo in TheBag's essay, because W. says the same thing over and over, one only has to look at that photo and imagine what he is saying, his repetitive words resounding in our heads. It's an advertising tactic and it's as effective for puppet presidents as it is for kitty-litter.

I love the way that the WH likes to have those lights behind W's head......looks like the spaceship is getting ready to take him back to planed Zenon.

Jay Leno, who can't resist a Clinton dig, depicted him has short of temper from that Fox interview. Clinton's point that no meetings where held for 9 months has been common Internet knowledge for years, and even the "Path to 9/11" (over-accused of being right-wing propaganda), implies that the Bush Administration had a negative interest in terrorist danger up to 9/11. I never liked this venomous right-wing cabal when they were relentlessly, and unsuccessfully trying to bring Clinton down, and I've got no stomach for them these days. Frankly the anthrax mails bear a distinct right-wing odor to them, which this FBI probably can't smell. Maybe I even detect a dash of MOSAD in that smell. Clinton left this country with a brighter future then this war criminal for President could ever hope to. Bush doesn't want to leave America better then it was when he took office, and he doesn't want to win his war he so conveniently hides behind as if the day of his reckoning will be the day our troops finally come home. Bush has deliberately been busy implementing policies that threaten to destroy this country I was born and raised in to the mantra of, "everything is different now after 9/11". I don't buy that BS, and I don't credit this spoiled brat fraud of a President with good intentions. A bankrupt country would be easy to buy, and our infrastructure may yet be sold to the Carlyle Group for a bargain basement price just like Russia's. Think about that next time one of these anti-Americans in the White House says that they wouldn't have done anything different if they had the chance again. Everything's going according to plan, and Congress and the Senate are trying to put the last couple nails in America's coffin before they loose their jobs in November. Isn't re-writing America's laws to accomodate torture good for the country kids?

Long view: Until now, the previous president has really never come out against his successor in a strong way.

so bush HAS changed the world, how soon can we change it back??

@ Keir
Sorry: "..Bill C., whose secretary of state, remember, thought the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under Clinton Admin. watch was "worth it". (Worth what?)" You are referring to a number, which was part of Saddam's propaganda. The "oil for food" programme had enough space for sufficient medical supplies and children food & care. It was Saddam and his currupt inner circle, who misused the earnings of the programme for their own profits (women, whisky and Ferraris). No way to put the guilt for the Iraquis sufferings under Saddam on Clinton.

your President has started two wars and stranded two armies and he has his finger on the button. again.

the image we never see of your President is "Commander In Chief" eg., standing over a map, spread out over a table, among his General Staff, pointing to some objective, saying : there.

the image we never see of your President is "Commander In Chief," standing over wounded men, laid out in a hospital ward, among their doctors and nurses, pointing to some soldier, saying : there, there.

Who knows, who can really say that "George W. Bush is the worst. president. ever." (?) But whether you are a Republican or Democrat, one thing all you Americans can say is that : “We have seen George W. Bush being a successful "Commander In Chief," never.

"No way to put the guilt for the Iraquis sufferings under Saddam on Clinton."

Have to forcefully disagree with that. Imagine my fingers pointing and tapping, etc. The quote referred to was The Secretary of State and she didn't dispute the numbers. Even if it was a theoretical question she felt that it was or would be "worth it". Plenty of blood and splinters from environmental damage on Clinton's hands.
Still happy to have him scold the "Right". Doesn't mean he speaks for the "Left". That goes for nearly every Democrat in office right now as well.

Hmm. Bush's finger looks pretty limp, to me.

More like a "pull my finger" guesture. Heh. Heh heh.

Whose president is Bush in fact: mine or yours?

Oh, I guess I need to add: he's ours! Wallace and Clinton look like corpses in a glass case, effigies stretched out behind glass in the altars of some catholic churches or Lenin sleeping in Red Square. It's creepy, old men with too much pancake on their face. In the top picture Bush comes across as a bit wan too. They always overdo the make-up in the U.S., as they overdo the toothpaste and deodorant tactics of a Madison Avenue man like Mr. K. Rove (not to be confused with Mr. C. Rove). Of all of them, President Ahmadinejad appears to be the most energetic and vital, almost embracing the General Assembly. Whose president is he? In these pictures we have the privilege of contemplating the past, the present and...

A good tie-in with the Newsweek covers... typically, the Albright quote is well known among Arabs and Muslims, and probably elsewhere around the world - but not in the U.S. She didn't even question the number (half a million children, and that was only as of May 1996).


Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

--60 Minutes (5/12/96)

Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's quote, calmly asserting that U.S. policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Arab children, has been much quoted in the Arabic press. It's also been cited in the United States in alternative commentary on the September 11 attacks (e.g., Alexander Cockburn, New York Press, 9/26/01).

But a Dow Jones search of mainstream news sources since September 11 turns up only one reference to the quote--in an op-ed in the Orange Country Register (9/16/01). This omission is striking, given the major role that Iraq sanctions play in the ideology of archenemy Osama bin Laden; his recruitment video features pictures of Iraqi babies wasting away from malnutrition and lack of medicine (New York Daily News, 9/28/01)...

Keir: What you cite as a "defense" of Bush is not based on what Clinton actually said, as far as I can tell, but on the writer's *opinion* of Clinton's comments. Clinton said Chavez should not have called Bush the devil because it hurts Chavez. Clinton did not say that Chavez's characterization was *inaccurate,* just that it doesn't do Chavez any good to use name-calling to make his point in front of the UN General Assembly. Is that "coming to the defense" of Bush? Or is it constructive criticism for Chavez, a little friendly advice? From your article:

"Bill Clinton came to the defence of his successor on Wednesday, saying Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should not have referred to US President George W Bush as 'the devil.' Clinton said Chavez's name calling during a speech before the UN General Assembly does not serve the interest of his country or his presidency.

'Obviously I think he made a mistake,' Clinton said in an interview scheduled to air on CNN Wednesday night. 'He's not hurting us, he's just hurting himself and his country.' "

RTBAG, a fair enough point, insofar as BC wasn't necessarily coming to the defence of GW. But I doubt very highly that it was "friendly advice" for Chavez. I disagree wholeheartedly with BC that Chavez "made a mistake" (though Bush is not "the Devil", but a devilish individual). Anyway I agree with this opinion that Chavez did not go far enough, and I wonder (but not too much) why the great humanitarian Bill C. cannot adopt a similar line of thinking.

On Chavez:

As a native speaker of Spanish. I can tell you that Chavez remarks came off as to heavy handed. He was trying to make fun of Bush, but when for a the hammer when a scapel would have done nicely. As for Bush, when you only have a hammer, everything looks like nails.

Brilliant insight by the Bag: Rove is emphasizing the cool, calm Bush, the man in charge and in control. Republicans are unruffled. Democrats scream and are out of control, they are Bush-haters. This is soothing imagery for the anxious, paranoid rightwing base.

I find Bush's comment very telling: "I've got to do my job, which comes home every day in the Oval Office, and that is to protect the American people from further attack. "

We've seen this WH ("I'm doing my job...keeping Americans safe.") positioning before. The WH has to persuade Americans that Bushco has made Americans safer, but reality is making it harder and harder to sustain that myth. So they are trying to stick the blame on someone else--This war?? Not our fault!!

Clinton's articulate defense brought attention back to the terrifying spectre that the CIC isn't doing his job.

Is it the lighting behind Bush in this image that makes him look like a preacher? Are the lights supposed to evoke his angel wings? It's a very clear, somber, minimalist image, and rarely (if ever) are the WH images minimalist or somber. The effect accomplishes two things: It reinforces a "higher authority" quality in Bush, and it underscores the "seriousness" of getting the domestic spying and torture legislation passed so that not one stone is left unturned in the effort to protect America. Bush continues from the excerpt above:

"But I will comment on this — that we're on the offense against an enemy that wants to do us harm. And we must have the tools necessary to protect our country. On the one hand, if al Qaeda or al Qaeda affiliates are calling somebody in the country, we need to know why. And so Congress needs to pass that piece of legislation. If somebody has got information about a potential attack, we need to be able to ask that person some questions. And so Congress has got to pass that piece of legislation.

You can't protect America unless we give those people on the front lines of protecting this country the tools necessary to do so within the Constitution. And that's where the debate is here in the United States. There are some decent people who don't believe — evidently don't believe we're at war, and therefore, shouldn't give the administration what is necessary to protect us."

Rove certainly knows that if the Repubs lose either the House or the Senate to the Dems, no legislation will be passed for the rest of Bush's term. I think the downward-pointing finger is to emphasize this message: *Our work fighting terrorists must not be impeded (by stupid dovish Democrats) or interrupted (by stupid midterm elections). Time is of the essence.*


Yes, do give a rocket launcher a guy that can't handle a .38!

The first thing that struck me about this photo is the lights in the background. It reminds me of two things. Neither particularly pleasant (for him).

One is the jangling bells that court jesters wore on their caps in the middle ages.

The other is that the way the lights dangle they look like donkey ears.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

My Other Accounts

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 07/2003